By Samantha Shaw, Assistant Sommelier, Restaurant Latour
Recent DNA testing has shown Primitivo to possess the exact same genetic makeup as the popular California grape, Zinfandel. Oddly enough, both varieties’ origins are traced back to Croatia. And while the grapes may be identical in theory, the wines they produce have distinct differences. Whereas Zinfandel is one of the largest varieties produced in California, Primitivo is found most often in southern Italy where the grape is keen to the naturally warmer climate.
Primitivo’s home province is Apuglia (sometimes called Puglia), located in the “heel” of Italy’s boot, pictured below. Like Zinfandel, wines made from Primitivo have notes of plum and spice, but because of different growing soils and climate, the fruit character is less jammy and the structure more akin to old world wines, with rustic notes of earthy spice as well as tamed fruit flavors.
When Head Sommelier Susanne Lerescu and I tried this wine last week, we were both blown away – aged for almost 10 years, but still packed with dark red fruit, and still clearly maintaining its lively acidity, meaning this wine will only get better with age. (I would drink it now, if only it were acceptable to drink Primitivo at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday!) This is a food wine 100 percent; dark red meat would compliment this rustic red. Just imagine what’s consumed in Italy, and it would taste great with that. All of it. Over the years it has no doubt softened a little in body and texture, making it approachable to drink now.
This wine is bold, packed with a punch at every sip, and bursting in the mouth. It’s said that if a wine sipped makes you yearn for another sip, then it’s good. If that’s the case, the Majara is a great wine because it makes you want to finish the bottle (with some friends of course). You don’t even taste the heat, though 2007 was a very hot vintage. The way the grapes form, these vines require no trellising, which means they are grown right from the ground. However, there is a small canopy above them to shield the grapes from too much sun so they don’t over ripen. In fact, the 2007 was so warm that some of the grape skins were burnt, but Milleuna used that to their advantage, and it gives the wine a subtle sweetness right on the finish.
If you come across this wine, buy a couple of bottles, and don’t save them just for special occasions. This wine alone IS the special occasion.
* Join us Sunday, May 6th in the Napa Room at the Crystal Springs Clubhouse for a Wine Education Seminar and Cellar Tour from 2:30-4:30 p.m! The cost is $30 per person for the public and $25 per person for social members. Call 973-827-5996, ext. 3 to register!
Heidi & Bo Barrett among special guests to attend NJ Wine & Food Festival
As the 4th annual NJ Wine and Food Festival fast approaches, excitement and anticipation around this exclusive event continues to build. Once again, thousands of wine and food lovers will gather at Crystal Springs Resort to meet and mingle with renowned chefs and winemakers. The guest list is impressive to say the least – with the best of the best scheduled to appear.
The Festival kicks off Friday, March 30th with two incredible occasions (already sold out): the Wine Cellar Dinner featuring Guest of Honor Thomas Keller and winemaker Heidi Barrett, as well as the Top Chefs & Top Wines dinner and pairing where Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena will show his face.
The story behind Chateau Montelena is an intriguing one worth sharing. In 1976, a who’s-who of the French wine and food establishment gathered for a grand tasting at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris, which became known as “The Judgment of Paris.” This was when Jim Barrett, winemaker, and his son Bo helped put the California region at the forefront of the wine world.
Four white Burgundies were tasted against six California Chardonnays. When the scores were tallied, the French judges were convinced that the top-ranking white wine would be one of their own. But to their surprise, it was Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay that rated above all other wines. This not only proved that Chateau Montelena could produce some of the world’s finest wines, but also that California’s wine industry had come of age. It was a great time to be a winemaker in California; certainly a time when California wine could shine. Chateau Montelena still prides itself on this honor as does the state of California.
For those attending the NJ Wine and Food Festival, Bo’s wine is simply a must-taste. He and his wife Heidi (of cult California wine, Screaming Eagle, and her own label, La Sirena) are a winemaking tour de force. With more than 30 years in the industry, they have also combined their passion and skills to create their signature label, Barrett and Barrett, which continues to be one of the most highly regarded, rare and coveted wines in California today.
In the summer of 2007, Hollywood descended on wine country. The result was Randall Miller’s “Bottle Shock,” filmed at Chateau Montelena Winery and other locations around Napa and Sonoma counties. “Bottle Shock” tells the compelling true story of a once little-known winery and its remarkable triumph over the French in the Judgement of Paris that went down in history.
For a complete list of acclaimed guests and activities scheduled for the NJ Wine and Food Festival, visit TheCrystalSpringsResort.com.
Most Irish-American fare consumed on St. Patrick’s Day beyond your typical pub food consists of the staples – Corned Beef and Cabbage, Bangers and Mash, and Fish and Chips – all great with beer, but better with wine!
The flavor and big acidity of wine are greatly complimentary to authentic Irish cuisine. So before you reach for a green beer, consider a glass of fion (wine).
Corned Beef and Cabbage:
For a red wine, you might want to try a Grenache (or Garnacha), found widely in Spain. The dark fruit flavors of the Grenache are a standout for the salty corned beef and the tender cabbage. The wine is layered with complexity and medium bodied but will not overpower this boiled dish! If you want to go for a white, we recommend something a little less powerful, perhaps a slightly effervescent Vinho Verde from Portugal; these wines are meant to be consumed young, as they are very fresh and vibrant with ripe fruit flavors. Vinho Verde (which translates to “green wine”) will bring out the cabbage and let the corned beef shine.
Try Finca Antigua, 2009 (Grenache) from Spain, or Vinho Verde, Grinalda, Portugal, 2009.
Bangers and Mash:
Ah, the ol’ Bangers and Mash. A tendency to explode when cooked over high heat garnered the name “bangers” for these juicy sausages. A nice, bold, bigger bodied red will do any Bangers and Mash justice. A more fruity California Syrah, full bodied and rich with flavor and complex spices will bring out the flavors of the sausage. If you wanted to go with a white here, a slightly oaked Chardonnay would also work. The subtle oaky flavors and smooth texture will bring a bang to the mash.
Try Arcadian Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley 2003, or Mer Soleil, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2007.
Fish and Chips:
If you guessed white wine, you’re right. We suggest pairing this guilty pleasure consisting of battered (often beer) or breaded, deep-fried fish served with french fries (oh the irony!) with Riesling. Whether from France, Germany, or New York a crisp, dry Riesling would be the perfect partner for a fried dish such as this. The acidity of the Riesling cuts right through the richness of the dish. Highly aromatic and light makes this a balanced partner for the salty Fish and Chips.
Try, Leitz, Rüdesheimer Klosterlay, Kabinett, Rheingau, 2009
Slider-loving football fans across the nation favor beer on Super Bowl Sunday, leaving wine (the underdog) to those who prefer to watch the commercials and nibble on veggies. Sound stereotypical? It is. When it comes to pairing your favorite ‘Game Day’ eats and drinks, every team’s a winner.
Here are Sommelier Susanne Lerescu‘s wine pairings for traditional Super Bowl foods that can also be found on our resort menus:
Wagyu Sliders, Crystal Tavern
Zinfandel, a hearty and rustic wine, pairs nicely with these hearty sliders. Zinfandel is a mouth filling dry red with dark fruit flavors. Made in the traditional style, it can be thick and chewy. Susanne points out, “Zinfandel is famous for staining teeth, but not to worry, red matches both team colors.”
Honey Chipotle Wings, Kites
Malbec, a low-acid, soft and juicy wine, provides the perfect balance for spicy foods like wings. While most Malbecs are from Argentina, you can also find fine bottles from Bordeaux, where it originated, and Cahors, south of Bordeaux.
Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bread Bowl, Hawks Nest
From southern Rhone, White Rhone Blends are very complex and expressive wines, pairing with many different dishes. These wines are for people who like big wines, but not reds. A great Rhone blend is A.A. Badenhorst, from South Africa. It has Chenin Blanc, Roussane, Grenach Blanc, Viognier, Verdehio and Chardonnay. This particular wine has lots of everything; including good acidity to stand up to the cream based dip.
Enjoy the game.
Pop…fizz…bubble. New Year’s cheer is often symbolized by an elegant flute or coupe of Champagne, but you’d be surprised how many holiday party goers are actually toasting with it’s cousin – sparkling wine. True Champagne is exclusively from the Champagne region of France.
We caught up with Susanne Lerescu, Sommelier for the Wine Cellar, to talk about the different types of Champagnes. The takeaway? An incredible education on Champagne and two exceptional recommendations to ring in the New Year:
Henri Billiot, “Cuvee Julie”, Reims, Champagne, NV
This producer owns about 5 hectares of vines in Ambonnay, which is considered one of the best towns for Champagne. What Montrachet is for Burgundy, Ambonnay is for Champagne!
This particular Champagne has equal parts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and does not see malolactic fermentation. The wines are fermented in enameled steel tanks and are not fined or filtered, so you get a lot of pure fruit flavors.
The nose is more on the herbaceous side with dill and cucumber aromas, which is pretty different. Susanne recommends pairing this Champagne with Oysters, Lox and Shrimp, and notes, “If you like interesting Champagne that drinks easy and is not too dry – this is the one.”
Henri Goutorbe, “Special Club”, Vallee de la Marne, 2002
This producer has been producing this estate bottled Champagne in Ay since the late 1940s. Ay is a grand cru village (the highest designation) and home to some amazing Champagne.
The wines are all fermented in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation is taking place.
This champagne uses two grapes – 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The Champagne is aged for 8 years at the estate before it is distributed.
The nose is more subtle, while you get a lot of complexity on the palate. “This Champagne drinks like a big white wine with just a few bubbles and would be nice to drink throughout the evening,” says Susanne.
Both of these Champagnes are from small producers, so you’ll have a hard time picking them up at a local wine shop. Instead, you’re more likely to find these Champagnes on select wine lists, like our very own Restaurant Latour,
Cheers to a bubble-filled holiday! Happy New Year!
It’s the true start of winter in New Jersey. Mountain Creek, the tri-state area’s premier destination for mountain excitement, opened for the 2011-2012 ski and snowboard season on Monday, December 26th just in time for holiday break.
Mountain Creek has invested more than $20 million in resort improvements this season, including the state-of-the-art, 50,000 square foot Red Tail Lodge and Drop Zone Snow Tube Park – America’s largest snow tubing facility.
Winter adventure seekers will enjoy our Ski and Stay packages, which include cozy accommodations, all day ski lift tickets, complimentary resort shuttle to and from the mountain and access to the resort amenities. Ski & Stay packages start at $100.99 per adult and are available now through March 17, 2012 (weather permitting).
Fall Festivities Include Harvest Weekends, Golftoberfest and Chili Cook-Off
Set amidst a brilliant mountainscape with amazing views spanning three states, Crystal Springs Resort is Northern New Jersey’s premier fall foliage vacation destination. Just 47 miles from Manhattan, the luxurious Grand Cascades Lodge, family-friendly Minerals Resort & Spa or the recreation-rich Mountain Creek lodging options offer leaf-peepers cozy accommodations and abundant world-class amenities, including seven renowned golf courses, Wine Spectator’s Grand Award-winning Restaurant Latour and 100,000+ bottle Wine Cellar, two full-service spas and tropical Biosphere Pool Complex.
Whether traveling with a friend, loved one or the whole family, Crystal Springs Resort offers guests more autumn activities than they could shake a leaf at, including:
Harvest Weekends at Minerals Resort & Spa
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through October 31st
Guests will start their weekend off with a taste of fall at the complimentary apple cider reception on Friday and Saturday evenings, with the Minerals activity director at the ready to assist travelers with day trips to nearby farms for apple and pumpkin picking and tours of local wineries. Recreation-seeking families will enjoy resort-planned activities, including mountain top hikes and canoeing, make-your-own caramel apples, pumpkin decorating, face painting and more.
Now through October 31st
Golfers at all 7 award-winning Crystal Springs Golf Courses will enjoy traditional German beer and Bavarian treats, such as bratwurst, knockwurst, weisswurst, German pretzels and potato leek soup. For a special treat, the Chefs have planned a pig roast every Saturday and Sunday.
Columbus Day Weekend Specials
October 7th – 10th
A long, leisure-filled holiday weekend awaits guests who take advantage of the Columbus Day Special – reserve Saturday and Sunday and receive 50% off Friday or Monday. The savings don’t stop there. The Crystal Springs Country Club will host their annual Columbus Day Sale October 8th – 10th. Golfers, skiers and snowboarders can cash in on huge holiday savings on all the best gear, apparel and accessories.
Autumn Extravaganza Craft Fair at Minerals Resort & Spa
October 16th ~ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
It’s never too early to start shopping for the holidays. Crafters, artists and artisans will display and sell their home-made items, including candles, jewelry, home gifts, clothing accessories and more.
Halloween Weekend at Minerals Resort & Spa
October 28th – 30th
Spooktacular haunted hayrides, pumpkin painting, psychic, scary movies, séance, costume parties and more.
Seasonal Spa Services
Spa goers and hotel guests will delight in a pampering treat at Crystal Springs Resort’s award-winning Elements Spa or Reflections Spa. Fall is the perfect season to indulge in a Pumpkin Aromatherapy Massage, exfoliate with an Autumn Facial Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, rehydrate with a Milk and Honey Moisture Wrap or soften and soothe dry and tired hands and feet with a Milk and Honey Manicure and Pedicure.